Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hell Promise - Aim for Hell CD Review

In order to keep things interesting when I sift through CD review candidates, I started a game that I like to play with the CDs I get. As soon as I receive a disc, if I haven’t already heard of the band (or only know a little about them), I make sure not to read their bio, press sheet, or visit their myspace. Knowing what they’re supposed to sound like, even if it according to the creative writing that is most press sheets, would ruin the game. I won’t even contemplate listening to the CD until after I have made my answer to “the game”. The point of this game is to make an attempt to pin down a band’s sound simply by looking at the band name, album art, and song names. Sometimes it’s not that hard to pick out a band’s sound (like with most emo bands for example) by the cover, but other times there are some real surprises. Hell Promise, in the context of this game, would be an entry level guessing candidate because they are just too easy to identify.

Their name is Hell Promise. The name of their debut is Aim for Hell. Their song names involve mention of shotguns, arson, vengeance, and “brass knuckle nightmares”. The cover of their CD is of a desert with a skull shadow in the clouds and a skeletal head on the ground. Yes, my friends, this is most definitely a metal band influenced purely by booze, bad boy living, dirty metal, and everyone’s favorite king of the demons—Satan.

From the first dirty metal chords of “Chamber #5” to the very end of “Shotgun Romance”, Hell Promise churn out song after song after song of simple southern metal, complete with occasional 80’s metal riffage, a few modern metalcore breakdowns, and some Swedish metal licks. Being that Brian Johnson, ex-guitarist of Himsa, is laying down some of the riffs, it would have been more expectant that this release have a quicker paced, thundering metal edge instead of the often slowed down groove nature of some of the songs, which gives many of the riffs a Black Label Society feel. It’s not really like modern Himsa at all, though.

Certainly this style of music has seen a resurgence of sorts lately with bands like Maylene and the Sons of Disaster gaining popularity, but Hell Promise lean more towards classic metal stylings alongside the southern metal as opposed to tacking on some southern metal sections to a predominantly metalcore base. Most of the tracks on Aim for Hell sound as if early Metallica had grown up in the dirty south or if Pantera slowed down their songs to half speed.

Those things being said, it is probably apparent that this CD is not exactly the most interesting southern metal release around. Sure, there are some decent grooves and riffs here and there, but most of the songs feel like a band just coming together trying out stuff for the first time, sticking to the simple things to keep it easy to learn and remember. The level of musicianship on display here just isn’t up to what it ought to be, considering the experience some of the members of the band have.

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